Archive for July, 2008

The Silent, Fatal Complication Of Type 1 Diabetes.

I recently posted an interview about an amazing and inspirational man with Type 1 Diabetes, who had won his battle against severe, life threatening bulimia.

Diabulimia is only a relatively new term, but it is very real and many type 1 diabetics of all ages, but particularly young teens and adolescents are falling victim to it.

Tragically, there are people all over the world taking unbelievably dangerous chances with their health and, potentially, their lives.

Puberty is a serious condition all on its own, and diabetes just makes it worse.

All it takes is for a young person with Diabetes to have high blood sugars for a few days, and they will quickly become aware that they can shed kilograms without any effort at all.

It then becomes very tempting to continue remaining high; all that is required is to become committed to “skipping” their insulin regime. The constant threat of DKA, liver enlargement, premature kidney damage, premature eye problems are all common complications-the symptoms of what can be considered long term complications appear much earlier, and are much more sinister. Adolescents with diabetes aren’t immune to how society perceives and admires Hollywood-ites, or to compete with their peers into what they consider is the epitome of cool/beautiful/or what men want them to look like. Extra kilograms become just as disgusting as diabetes itself. Thus, this condition, that is not yet recognised as a medical condition is silently rampant in younger diabetic communities.

I received a very brave, and courageous email from a reader named Jacq, who has spent the past weeks devoting herself to creating a website. The subject matter is very close to her heart.

Jacq, the creator of Sugar Rush has taken on a huge task by creating a support network for those who may be short-term or long-term suffers of Diabulimia. She is so determined to make a difference, that she is going to study Psychology at Uni this October, in an attempt to help other young people like her, and to give this silent diabetic complication an identity.

In the past, most people with Diabulimia were treated as suffering from bulimia,( who just also happened to suffer from Type 1 Diabetes.) Eventually, it became recognised that having Type 1 Diabetes and Bulimia was becoming more than a coincidence-it was a legitimate problem concerning teens or young people with type 1 Diabetes. Psychologists are hesitant to give Diabulimia a title, and prefer to address the key problem as simply bulimia.

However, the symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa are binge eating huge amounts of food, followed by purging (vomiting ) or using a laxative to rid the body of as much of what was consumed as possible, repeatedly, each and everyday. The binge/purge pattern is not neccessarily typical behaviour of Diabulimia. The main objective is to stay as high as is “safely” possible; high enough to function, and to hold off from having to use insulin for as long as possible , without accidently lasping into a Diabetic Coma, and facing the “worst” case scenario-their secret being revealed to their parents, peers or waking up attached to a drip. Witholding insulin will see the body begin to cannibalize itself, eating away muscle, fat stores, therefore leaving sufferers elated at the weight loss they have experienced with very little effort.

"The only consistency in a bulimic's life is Bulimia...imagine the chaos of Type 1 Diabetes thrown in for good measure?

"The only consistency in a bulimic's life is Bulimia...imagine the chaos of Type 1 Diabetes thrown in for good measure?

The constant threat of DKA hovers over a diabulmic’s head, but the lure of keeping the kilograms off is much more tempting.

I would love you to visit Jacq’s site, she is eager to have as many people contribute as possible. Working on this project has been highly beneficial for her recovery!

She is providing a fantastic community service for those who live in this silent world. People with Diabulmia now have the opportunity to have a voice, and know that they most certainly are not alone.

http://www.sugarrushme.synthasite.com/index.php

I would recommend this site to anyone who has an adolescent teenage daughter OR son with Type 1 Diabetes. Hormones and increased insulin injections play havoc on the adolescent body. The desire to become as perfect as they can be, in an attempt to impress society or to increase self-esteem issues has escalated out of control, for both sexes. In fact, some doctors are comparing the diagnosis ratio between females and males as 2:1.

It would mean so much if you could take the time to read Jacq’s story, and add her URL address to your blogrolls.

It could mean that a lost and lonely soul who is living a a life of deceit and secrecy, and finds they have little or no choice but to exist in a world of silence and shame may stumble upon Jacq’s site, and at last, feel like they can relax and know they have a safe place to visit. Maintaining bulimia and uncontrolled Type 1 Diabetes would equate to a 24 hour job, and just maybe, Jacq’s page may allow sufferers to feel like it isn’t necessary to participate in self-loathing and such damaging acts to their bodies quite so much. Feeling like the shackles were loosened and the lights turned on would be the most emancipating feeling for this tiring, extreme and horrific condition.

We focus so much on retinopathy, HBAIC results, hypers, hypos, kidney problems, all totally worthwhile topics to have a good vent about, but imagine if mentally, you had NO control over this dangerous and life-threatening condition.

I have to congratulate Jacq for having the courage and the strength to speak so candidly about her condition. It is difficult to read, and those who do not understand mental illness may have a difficult time accepting that this is actually a real and fatal condition.

Jacq is officially a SuperFriend of Why Did The Insulin Die? for standing up and making a difference-we wish her the very best on her journey to full recovery.

Bravo, Jacq.

If you feel like you identify with any symptoms of Diabulimia, you can anonymously contact a support group called lifegoeson.org.au which offers strategies and choices to get through any serious illness.

1300 364 673 (Australia only.)

There is also a fantastic page: http://www.eatingdisorders.org.au/content/view/16/37/ that offers many links to different groups in various states in Australia. Interestingly, Diabetes Australia is listed.

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“How Power Of The Mind Cured My Type 1 Diabetes And I Didn’t Manage To Fool A Soul.”

I wasn’t going to post tonight. Then I checked my inbox and felt so compelled to comment about an issue I have touched on before.

I received this message from a 16 year old male, who is about to turn 17 in a few months.

He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 3 years ago.

From time to time, he tells how he checks his blood sugar levels with his glucometer, and they are normal.

He swears he doesn’t have Type 1 Diabetes, but his doctors assure him that he does. He even assures me that he drinks “normal” drinks and eats what he wants and whenever he wants, all causing no ill effect to his blood sugar levels.

The biggest mystery of all, is that this teenager proudly boasts that he hasn’t had to have insulin shots for almost his whole diabetic life, all excluding two months after he was first diagnosed.

He firmly believes that he does NOT have Type 1 Diabetes.

Somewhere, in this bizarre little scenario, this kid got his hands on a book entitled, ” The Dynamic Laws Of Healing“-a self help book written in the 1960’s. The boy (who would have been 13 at the time,) came away from reading this book rich with the firm belief that if the mind is powerful, and you truly believe that you aren’t sick, then the body will reject the fact that it’s sick and heal itself.

His last sentence was “I didn’t believe that I was diabetic after leaving the hospital, and to this day, I don’t take insulin.”

Ha.

I have a few comments that I feel must be made.

If you are sick enough to be admitted into hospital with symptoms that replicate Type 1 Diabetes, and the doctors’ can match your blood work with the physical evidence of ketones, weight loss, low levels of potassium…then YES. You do have Type 1 Diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic disease, that never improves by itself, or goes away. Once your immune system mistakenly kills off those beta cells that used to excrete as much insulin as you needed in the good ole’ days, you can’t get those beta cells back. Not even the world’s leading scientists or experts in the field of endocrinology have worked out how to create such a miracle.(yet.)

It’s only just acceptable to make these claims,(given your tender age and all,) however it’s downright cruel to tell “your story” to those who live with the heavy burden of Type 1 Diabetes. Like the author of the book you read, every parent whose child has been diagnosed has undoubtedly prayed, questioned alternative healing, cried in their endocrinologist’s office…we WANTED to believe that the diagnosis was all a huge mistake, and that the doctors’ were wrong.

I even believed for a few hours that MY son wasn’t capable of having this silent devastation occur before my very eyes. There’s no doubt that it’s very traumatic for all parties when a child, or in my instance, a baby is diagnosed.

The only reason that I can think that you would have written to me with this load of hogwash, is that you were diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, and had to commence oral medication. Perhaps you changed your lifestyle enough that you could live your life without the medication. (I’m being really generous here…. )

My son, with Type 1 Diabetes, lies beside me as I reply to your story. He is sleeping, and for tonight, his blood sugar readings are okay. Not perfect, not dangerous, but acceptable. I have nursed him through the perils of DKA, where I have watched with my own eyes how the body responds to not enough insulin. Without medical intervention, he would have died. HE WOULD HAVE DIED. NOT JUST MY SON, BUT EVERY CHILD WHO HAS TYPE 1 DIABETES. IF YOU REALLY HAVE TYPE 1 DIABETES, THEN YOU ARE WRITING TO ME FROM THE “OTHER SIDE.” There is no possibility you could have lived without daily insulin for three years.

No power of the mind, no mantras, no alternative forms of therapy are going to stop this cochroach of a disease from rapidly sending a child into a diabetic coma, with death closely following. INSULIN IS the only answer, it’s not even a cure, but it will certainly keep you alive.

Im going to recommend that YOU do some more reading. THIS book is a true story about the parents of an 11 year old boy, who believed in the promises of a miracle worker, and turned their backs on insulin. Their child died a horrendous death before their very eyes, 3 days later. Larry Parker, a good, Christian man, let his son die, because his faith was so strong, he believed that”His God” would cure his son of Type 1 Diabetes.

If you can read that book, and come back to me and say that you STILL don’t need insulin, then you don’t have Type 1 Diabetes. In fact, the only reason I bothered to reply was for the simple fact that if ONE person saw your false allegations somewhere online, and decided, “YAY, I’m going to do it..if this kid can, I can..I can stop my injections!”…then it was worth sitting up on a bitter winter’s morning and swapping book titles.

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Australia-Land Of Golden Plains and Jiggly Bits.

When I was younger than Lance, there was a great Australian television icon.

Norm.

Norm, the lovable, lazy, beer-swilling, tv watching character I grew up with.

Norm, the lovable, lazy, beer-swilling, tv watching character I grew up with.

Norm was the face of a collection of advertisements called, Life. Be In It. Despite his portly gut, he encouraged us to go out and play a game of volleyball, cricket or go fo a swim.To make the most out of life. He even told us to “slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat.” People started to realise that they didn’t want to be a “Norm”, complete with beer belly and staggered gait. It made people start to think about how much alcohol we, as a nation were consuming, what types of food we were eating and whether we were socialising enough through exercise.

Suddenly, Norm disappeared from our television screens.

Ironically, twenty-five years later, Norm is celebrating his TV debut.

Earlier this year, deplorable figures shot shockwaves throughout the country. Nine million Australians are overweight or obese. This takes the chocolate creamcake!! We beat the supersized Americans for the number ONE position as the most overweight country in the world. Despite the images depicted in Australia of Americans adoring junk food, for our little continent to whoop the pants off America, that’s quite a feat, when you consider the vast differences in population!!!

Australians All Let's Pass The Sauce...

Australians All Let's Pass The Sauce...

What a National Disgrace!

The Fat of the Land!

Type 2 Diabetes numbers are soaring, hospital beds are filling, enlarged hearts are beating to their full capacity. Parents have no idea that by grabbing fast food on their way home from work, with kids in tow, that they are educating their children with their same, lazy messages and attitudes about food!!

Thank goodness for the likes of Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson, who have made home cooked, healthy choice meals appealing and popular to younger men and women. Growing your own vegetable garden is something that many people now enjoy doing.

 Regardless, we are still a pack of NORMS!!!

It’s devastating!

The most horrific part of it all is that children who are Lance’s age are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes EVERYDAY. It’s then a tired, frazzled parent like me, who feels emotive enough to write a Letter to the Editor, and explain that my son had no say in his diagnosis, but Muskstick Sally has probably been fed fast foods all her life, therefore, her body is calling out for more insulin to cover her increasing girth. Damn you, PARENTS!!!

If we are still Number 1 next year,  we are officially relocating to Tokyo.

I’m sure the D word isn’t mentioned as much over there.

 

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The Ultimate Type 1 Survival Kit.

A few newly diagnosed families have written to me lately, asking what is the Ultimate Diabetes Survival Kit.

I have two versions-one for everyday trekking about town, and the other, for overnight visits or holidays. 

However, I will concentrate on what I take around with me on a day-to-day basis.

Basically, it’s IMPERATIVE to never leave the house without some form of confectionery or soft drink.

Hypo’s love an audience, so the best way to combat them is to have a range of easily consumed soft lollies, or your child’s favourite sugary drink. (Poppers are ideal, but again, it’s up to individual choice.) If your child becomes so hypo that they refuse to eat, drink or cooperate, you can buy tubes of condensed milk and tubes of icing in a variety of colours from the supermarket. Rubbed into the gums, they will absorb into the bloodstream quickly, hopefully quickly enough that a popper won’t be thrown back at you in disgust. (The danger here is choking. If your child is really upset, and crying and thrashing, DO NOT attempt to put anything into their mouths. Resorting to using a Glucagon Kit is a far more sensible idea, and you KNOW it’s going to work.)

But, first things first.

You are going to need a backpack with lots of different pockets. Of course, it’s up to you entirely what design, shape or colour you select, but it’s vital to choose something that isn’t easily misplaced in a hurry. Have an attachment to a zipper with your name and contact details that are easily legible.

The Essentials.

Glucometer-fully stocked with strips,extra strips, lancets and a spare set of batteries.

A spare lancet device is also handy-the number of pens that have broken in a crisis…it feels sometimes as if Diabetes is giving me a test to see if I break down due to stress.

A container with your insulins inside it; if you are injecting, you’ll know what apparatus to bring with you. It’s great if your insulin doesn’t get too overheated, hence keeping it in an air tight container. Carry a small sharps container to dispense of any used “sharps.” A few alcoholic swabs never go astray, either.

Cans of soda, packets of lollies and other Hypo treatments that are favoured, as well as bendy straws. It’s amazing how a sugar deprived brain has no idea to send a message to the mouth, telling it how to drink out of a can or bottle!! Lucozade is also fantastic, as it has extra glucose than standard soft drink, and a lid, in case your child tells you to get knicked. Keep all of these in a clip seal bag.

GLUCAGON Kit. Yeah, I know I’m annoying with my ranting about glucagon. It’s just that it has literally saved my son’s life, when he has been too uncooperative to eat or drink. Get a prescription from your GP and have it filled immediately.  If an ambo officer sees the “orange box,” they’ll know exactly what they are dealing with, too!!

Throw in a packet of glucose tablets. If your child is displaying symptoms in a queue, it’s great to be able to pulverize them into the earth, (the symptoms, not the child…) by allowing a burst of glucose to keep them safe until you get out.

It’s also fantastic to get an ID card made up, stating that your child has Type 1 Diabetes, or any other allergies or ilnesses. An Australian company, Diabete-Ezy,make these cards-all you need is a passport photo, and list  whom your child’s next-of-kin is. Elissa, the Founder of Diabete-Ezy does the rest!

It’s also good to keep a list of your GP, your Endo and their contact numbers, your last AIC result and what insulins you are taking, plus your daily dosages.

Along the way, I have also learnt to include Children’s Panadol, in case your child gets a pesky post hypo headache. A bottle of water is a must, in case blood sugar levels get cheeky and leave you stuck with nothing but a bag of sugar, and also a few bandaids of all different sizes. Lance has a habit of crashing into a fixture in a store when extremely low, and leaving a generous sized portion of skin behind…

If your child has had an attack, whether it be hypo or hyper whilst you are away from home, and you are concerned about not being close to them, include enough change in a container for a taxi to the nearest doctor, hospital or home. Just in case your mobile runs out of battery, keep a berocca bottle full of coins to make calls to people who can help you out.

A pack of handwipes are also a great idea, in case Panadol gets spat in your face, or in some cases, a really bad hypo can cause an unexpected upchuck. A change of clothes is also a great idea; if it is warm weather, still include a jacket, as sometimes kids’ can feel cold after a hypo.

Some muesli bars or fruit bars are helpful if your child has safely recovered from a hypo. They will need something that will take lower to burn-muesli bars, although riddled with sugar, are ideal for keeping blood sugar stable until you get into your safe environment.

This is a little far-fetched, but I still do it anyway…

If you are in a shopping centre, a library, a cafe-just about anywhere, don’t be phased if you have a managerial looking person approach you and question why you have syringes or vials of “drugs”  etc. I have been accused too many times to count of giving Lance “drugs.” Inform the staff member of the situation, if they still are giving you ‘tude, inform them that you are going to report them and their workplace to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission in regards to blatant discrimination. Look up the number in your state/country and watch how quickly they back off. An asthmatic wouldn’t get looked down upon for using their inhaler now, would they?

Your NDSS Card, Diabetes Australia Membership card, and your child’s “Disability Card” never go astray either.

Well, that would have to be close to the ULTIMATE hypo kit, However, if any other brilliant, genious mother/father/carer has something not on my list, I’d love to add it on!!

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Type 1 Diabetes Misbehaving in Australia-The Latest Findings.

“If it doesn’t run in your family, then how did your son get Type 1 Diabetes?”

I get asked this question SO often, that I want to get some freaky tattoo on my forehead and grow a unicorn horn so that people will be afraid to approach me.

In all seriousness, it appears like Diabetes Australia have been busy little bees, doing lots of research about the escillating rates of Type 1 Diabetes, and even looking at some environmental causes as to why children in particular are more vulnerable to developing the condition.

It seems that in the time since Lance was diagnosed, 2 more Australian children are diagnosed everyday. 6000 new cases of Type 1 Diabetes have been diagnosed between 2000-2006.

Scientists have stopped skitting and scatting and are now acknowledging that there are environmental factors that cause Type 1 Diabetes.

They are questioning the introduction of cow’s milk over breastfeeding, and a lack of Vitamin D during pregnancy as possible causes for the flareup in diagnoses. (Personally, I say a big fat phooey to these suggestions, as Lance was still being breastfed when he was diagnosed, and I walked almost EVERYWHERE in Brisbane (notorious for its blistering heat) when I was pregnant. I feel confident that I had plentiful stocks of Vitamin D.

However, I feel it’s really important to report any new statistics or research that is happening in Australia. Despite our little nation being so far away from where other promising investigations are happening, I am actually very proud of the work that JDRF and Diabetes Australia does to fund the best possible research and trials. So with that, I bring you the latest news.

From 2000-2006, 6000 children had newly acquired Type 1 Diabetes. One of those 6000 children is Lance, who was dignosed in 2002. These stats show that IDDM is on the rise 3-and-a-half percent every year.

Australia has the sixth largest incidence of Type 1 Diabetes in the world. Tasmania has the largest percentage per 100 000 of daily diagnoses in childen under 14, which was much higher that New South Wales, Queensland, or the Northern Territory-the vicinity with the least amount of daily diagnoses.

Finland, Norway and Sweden have the highest incidences of Type 1 Diabetes in children in the world.

(So, what’s going on in Scandanavia? Three gorgeous, first world countries have the highest percentage of the most common childhood chronic disease on the planet. Hmm.)

In the year 2000, 19 out of 100 000 children were diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. In 2006, the number of diagnoses had increased to 23 out of 100 000 children.

In this study, it was also apparent that there were almost 9000 new cases in people 15 or over, with males twice as likely than females to develop the disease.

Pleasingly, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare also acknowledged in their report that young adults aren’t immune to Type 1 Diabetes. They publically announced that contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about young children anymore and that adults of all ages are diagnosed on a daily basis.

The President of Diabetes Australia, Dr Gary Deed said, “There obviously therefore must be some environmental factors driving this increase because on average the blend of Australians and the genetic type of Australians hasn’t changed dramatically over the last five years.”

Dr Deed also confirmed that those who had autoimmune conditions such as coeliac disease, thyroid diseases and rheumatoid arthritis were more susceptible to having Type 1 diabetes.

“Certain viruses in a susceptible individual may cause the eruption of autoimmunity to the pancreas and thus causing Type 1 diabetes,” he said.

There is also a current investigation into whether there was a link between Coxfackie viruses, which can cause cold-like symptoms, and Type 1 Diabetes.

“Early dietary exposure to forms of cows milk have been also studied and that research is ongoing,” Dr Deed said.

Dr Deed said to decrease their child’s risk of having Type 1 diabetes, mothers should ensure they have enough Vitamin D during pregnancy and breastfeed. ( I feel it’s a little premature to be making calls like this; sure, research is underway, but nothing is proven by any means. Hey, listen to Dr Deed over me however. I’m sure he’s not the President of Diabetes Australia because his body shape does justice to a Barnaby Bee costume!)

Barnaby Bee-The Mascot Of Diabetes Australia. Cute!

Barnaby Bee-The Mascot Of Diabetes Australia. Cute!

So there you have it. That’s the news about how Type 1 Diabetes in Australia, and what investigations and research are currently underway in an attempt irradicate it from the Medical Dictionary permanently.

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A Cruel, Insidious Battle To The End-A Diabetes-Related Tragedy.

Ever since Lance and I have lived in our neighbourhood, we have paid occasional visits to a Chinese Takeaway restaurant that is infamous for their traditional dishes made to order. They make a delectable chicken-and- vegetable-stirfry that we both love.

Lance, being the out and proud diabetic and media star, quickly introduced himself to the ladies who prepare the food.

Being the small world that it is, we discovered that these ladies, who are sisters, have a brother with Type 1 Diabetes.

Lance was mesmerised. He barraged them with questions.

“What sort of insulin does he take?”

“How many shots a day is he having?”

“Does he cheat and eat bad foods?”

“Can I visit him?”

These ladies were enchanted by such a little boy knowing so much about the condition, when he couldn’t even see over the countertop yet.

Over the years, we have bumped into each other.  Lance would immediately ask, “How’s your brother doing?”

(The Brother was 30 when diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, with no family history of Type 1 or 2. He had reacted terribly to the news that he would be on insulin for the rest of his life, and went on huge weekend benders that consisted of lots of beer, plenty of fast food, and the occasional insulin shot, when he felt bad enough to have one.)

The Sisters’ would reply, “Oh, he’s not too good at the moment, Lance. He hasn’t been looking after himself very well.”

Lance would nod his head, and remain silent. After a moment, he would say, “Well, make sure you say a big hello from me to him! And tell him to have an apple instead of a pie!”

Not long after, I managed to escape to the shops, Lance-free for 5 minutes. Again, I met one of the sisters. Her forehead crinkled and her eyes watered up when she saw me. I immediately feared the worst.

“Brian has lost his eyesight. He’s completely blind now. He’s having his right foot amputated next week, and the Blue Nurses are caring for him everyday, now.”

There we stood, two women, clutching hands. I was aware of the rest of the world busily moving forward around us.  I then thought of Brian, unable to see, unable to walk, moving backwards into a world of darkness and fear.

I squeezed her hands as tightly as I could, just in case I couldn’t deliver the heartbreak I felt with my voice. She tossed her head back, and blinked away her tears.

“Anyway, he still has us. We’ll never give up on him. We visit him everyday and read him the paper, and make sure he’s got all of his insulin and syringes.”

I remember going home and feeling nauseated by the news. This man was a total stranger, however, I was staggered by how deeply his horrific news had affected me.

Almost a year passed.

 I had finished work late, Lance was ravenous, so we both decided to visit The Sisters’ at the Chinese Restaurant. Lance and his dog stood outside the restaurant, whilst I collected our meals.

As usual, they both greeted me with a big smile. The waved to Lance, and commented on how tall and healthy he looked.

I paid them, and as I was handed my change, I asked the same question that Lance had been asking for years.

“How’s your brother doing?”

Silence.

I froze. I knew that silence.

I flung my head around to check Lance wasn’t watching. He was busy urging Chino to perform his reportoire of tricks.

I looked into their eyes, searching for answers.

“I’m sorry, love.  Brian passed away a day after New Years Day this year. He couldn’t handle being so dependent on everyone. He ended up in a wheelchair, and had toes on his other foot removed, and he was in terrible pain. He’s better off this way. He was so depressed and angry. You wouldn’t want your worst enemy to be in the state he was in.”

Tears streamed down my face. They urged me with their eyes not to break down.

“He’s in peace now, love. Now, don’t you worry about this happening to your little mate. He’s as safe as houses as long as he’s got you.”

The other sister, wiping away tears, staring straight ahead said, “The doctors’ all said that with the amount of insulin he gave himself that he would have gone very quickly and wouldn’t have suffered in the slightest.”

Suicide. Diabetes Related Suicide.

He was 41 years old.

Now you can walk, now you can see...

Now you can walk, now you can see...

This post is dedicated to his memory, and to The Sisters’, who fought all the way to the bittersweet end alongside him.

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It’s Not A Competition!!!!!!!!!

You know..if Type 1 Diabetes wasn’t a condition with had so much visual imagery attached to it, I wouldn’t tell a soul that Lance has lived with it for almost his entire life.

(Of course, excluding teachers and the people that NEED to know.)

Lance is very vocal and extraverted about initating conversations with strangers we come across regarding the fact that he has Type 1 Diabetes.  He shows not one ounce of pity or sadness that he has the condition; I think he actually enjoys getting on his soapbox and making people aware of what people with Type 1 go through. ( I guess he spends way too much time with me….)

Over the years, I have politely nodded and vehemently agreed that there are far worse conditions than Type 1 Diabetes. I have had “At least he doesn’t have cancer..” thrown at me too many times to  count, and yes, I am so, so grateful that Lance doesn’t have cancer.

“Diabetes? Oh who DOESN’T have diabetes these days!!!”

“Oh my neighbour’s daughter has Type 1, and she does ballet, hip hop dancing, Drama, plays the oboe and is training to become an acrobat so that she can join the circus!! Diabetes doesn’t stop her at all!!” (Ok, got a bit carried away there, she just did the dancing..) And yes, I am very aware that kids’ with Type 1 Diabetes can have very full, normal lives.

“You know, we sponsor a child in Africa who is an orphan. Without us, she would have died with starvation. Look at you with your rosy cheeks! Diabetes is nothing to complain about, mate.” (He wasn’t complaining…but now that you mention it, DKA is a nasty, fatal condition associated with Diabetes; the body begins to cannibalize itself if not enough insulin in given. This often happens when a person with diabetes becomes ill and can’t eat, therefore making it a guessing game regarding how much insulin to dispense.)

“Well there doesn’t look like there’s anything wrong with you anyway young fella! You could be a halfback in a football team! Don’t you worry about Dia-a-bloody-betes.” (Hmm. No COMMENT THERE.)

“Ooh, so that means that he’ll grow out of that. My aunt did at his age. She had it since she was a baby, and then when she hit puberty, she stopped her tablets!” (                              )

“You should take him for a walk through the kids’ ward at the hospital. Then he would know what ‘sick’ really meant.” (GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR, he knows the paediatric ward very well thank you very much..)

“Well, you know, I have arthritis, and somedays, I can’t get out of bed. I cry in pain and I have to be really tough mentally to get up and keep going.” (Getting my drift?)

“Well mate. You’ve got two good legs, two good arms. Nothin’ wrong with ya. My old man’s got kidney failure. You haven’t seen sick until you’ve seen how crook he is.” (Limbs intact, check. Pancreas functioning? Nup. No life on Planet Pancreas. Kidneys? Well..they are starting to feel the strain, too.)

“Ohh you poor thing. Well, I guess you just have to look at how lucky you are to still be alive. Some kids die when they are born, for no reason. That is the biggest horror of all.” 

“Oh there is a cure for that now! I saw it on the news! It’s the kids with Cystic Fybrosis I feel sorry for..they are the ones that have to battle all their lives…” (ARRRGGGH!)

Okay. I have to get one thing straight.

ANY CHILD who has a life-threatening condition is in a cruel and horrible predicament. It’s just not right that kids’ are born and know suffering before they have had time to live. I have met some truly breathtaking children from Lance’s times in hospital who will tell you all about their sickness with a huge smile on their face, and then proceed to show you how they can do a new puzzle, or tell you how they got to watch the footie with their Dad. 

However. Adults. The Experts.

Lance may have rosy cheeks, however, if I skipped his insulin dosage the same day that comment was made, he would be a pale, clammy, very sick little boym thrashing around with agonising stomach cramps by midnight.

Any child in Africa who receives sponsorship is truly blessed. People who sponsor a child in Africa are truly inspirational. However, Lance is forced to face his own mortality everytime he is severely hypo, and he fights against having a handful of lollies, or some Juice, because his brain is so starved of glucose that his thought processes become completely irrational.

To be crippled in bed with arthritis must be a terrible afffliction. I guess you could compare the feeling of being “bedridden”  to a week of high blood sugars, that leave a person with Diabetes weak, achy, listless and thoroughly drained.

What I would really like to say, is that cancer, and cystic fybrosis, and leukaemia, and muscular dystrophy are all terrible, devastating childhood illnesses. I would like to include Type 1 Diabetes to that list. It may not be physically detectable like some other conditions, and it has a whole different range of symptoms and complications. A child with Type 1 Diabetes who is deprived of their insulin will deteriorate rapidly. They WILL die. No ifs, no buts.

It just makes me want to scream out at the top of my lungs, “IT’S NOT A COMPETITION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I understand that many people associate diabetes with their parents or grandparents.

I understand that people are probably trying to put a positive spin on Lance’s public revelations.

I understand that there are many horrible illnesses that prey on our children.

However, i refuse to say that Type 1 Diabetes is not a serious, life-threatening disease, and that Lance is lucky he has it in comparison to any other affliction…I will NEVER say that he is lucky to have this over cancer. It’s just plain stupidity to compare one illness to another. Any parent who has nursed their child through DKA after a vomiting virus, or has seen their child recover from a seizure as a result of severe hypoglycaemia will understand what I mean. When Diabetes gets mad, it gets ugly. Just like the rest of the illnesses and conditions mentioned in this post.

Each person has their own personal set of circumstances and coping mechanisms.They SHOULD NOT BE MADE TO FEEL GUILTY FOR GRIEVING ABOUT THEIR CHILD’S DIABETES, because it’s a “treatable” condition. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot of work and effort associated each and every day with keeping your child vertical. Generalisations made about Type 1 Diabetes are so hurtful. I try so hard to continue creating awareness each and every day, but it really feels like I’m wading in quicksand.

 

It’s not fair to make kids’ with Type 1 diabetes feel like their very needy, unpredictable condition isn’t worth talking about, or to completely disregard what they go through. 

That’s just me on my soapbox.

 

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